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After Eaze Weigand Got 15 Months Akhavan Forfeiture Reduction Vacated By 2nd Circuit

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Podcast Order
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 11 – The Wirecard-related trial of US v. Weigand and Akhavan began before Judge Jed S. Rakoff in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on March 1, 2021. Inner City Press, which has been covering the case including its Wirecard aspects, live tweeted Day 1, here and below.

  Inner City Press requested and got unsealed the Government's redactions as to cooperator Oliver Hargreaves, who mentioned Wirecard's Jan Marsalek and OneCoin money launderer Gilbert Armenta, Judge Rakoff's preliminary order here.

Full 13-page order here.

Jump cut to January 11, 2023, when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a summary order rejected Weigand's arguments about video testimony and the jury instructions, but found Judge Rakoff's reduction in Akhavan's forfeiture to be "in tension" with the Circuit's prior decisions. It cited US V. Viloski, 814 F.3d 104 (2d Cir. 2016) which in turn cited US v. Bajakajian, 524 U.S. 321 (1998). It was remanded to Judge Rakoff, where we will continue to cover it.

The appeals case is US v. Weigand, et al., 21-1678 (Rakoff)

In March 2022, Germany belatedly charged Wirecard CEO Markus Braun, and allowed a quasi class action against Ernst & Young. Meanwhile the U.S. Federal Reserve after a Freedom of Information Act request from Inner City Press about Wirecard responded that they have no documents, at least none that they will release. And the Governors upheld this on appeal, and now new Governors are blocked. Watch this site.

On June 18, both men were sentenced. Inner City Press was there. Here is Weigand, live tweeted here and Weigand fling on Hargreave etc on Patreon here

On March 4, 2022 cooperator James Patterson filed a sentencing submission with every since exhibit sealed, arguing for supervised release, no jail time. He says Akhavan threatened him, to "pay him a visit" to "show him what happens to rats." 

On March 5 the US Attorney's Office wrote that despite fear, "Patterson cooperated fully and testified publicly against Akhavan. Patterson deserves significant credit for this."

The sentencing was held on March 11, over nearly before it began. Cooperator Patterson got time served. We'll have more on all this.

Back on August 30, Judge Rakoff issued a 20 page order weighing what forfeiture for Akhavan would be proportional - and Constitutional. He found that $17 million was unconstitutionally excessive, but found proportionate $103,750 - the value of the Eaze stock option given to Akhavan - and ordered it paid.

From June 18: Weigand's counsel quotes former Chief Judge McMahon that MCC is worse, in some ways, that Colombian prisons. Weigard has submitted three letters of support from former NYPD officers. Judge Rakoff: We don't have to compare where conditions were worse, City or BOP

Weigand's lawyer: It is unfair that the press has linked Mr. Weigand to Wirecard. Judge Rakoff: That is not a strong argument. Weigand's lawyer: He is suffering, this will be a consequence to him.

Weigand's lawyer: It's his father's 70th birthday today. What he's been through in the past 15 months, he's lost his business. View him for who he is, not the extraneous factors.  AUSA: He needs a significant sentence.

 AUSA: They used Mr. Weigand's expertise to set up accounts with off-shore processing banks. It's $108 million in transactions. Mr. Weigand is at the center, touching every aspect of this scheme. In the docket: Weigand put in a letter of support from security guard paid to "enforce home confinement of Mr. Weigard" - and to "protect," here

AUSA trashes "Weigand's continual attempts to blame the victims."

She's referring to banks.

Weigand's lawyer: It was Oliver Hargreaves [cooperator] who set up all the accounts. He was "the man in Europe," and not Reuben Weigand who was just helping out. There was a recorded conversation that shows they were like two ships passing in the night.

 Weigand himself: I want to apologize by my fiancee and my business partners. Even if I don't agree with the wervict... I had a lot of opportunity. I achieved a lot. My professional life is gone. And my reputation, one of my most important assets.

Weigard: I am forfeiting my commissions from an "unindicted co-conspirator in the case." The members of the security staff, they help me. I ask for leniency.

 Judge Rakoff: So. This was a serious, blatant, sophisticated fraud built on a mountain of lies.

 Judge Rakoff: There is a need for some general deterrence. I'll go modest - half of what Mr Akhavan got. I sentence you to 15 months in prison, then 3 years of supervised release. A fine of $50,000, to be paid of 10% of gross month income

Weigand's lawyer: We oppose supervised release. He will be returning home. 

AUSA: It's relevant to the fine. Judge Rakoff: I don't see how I can not impose supervised release. The argument will be made he is not a US citizen and all like that

 Weigand's lawyer: He had a visa to pass thru on this way to a Costa Rica vacation. He can't stay here. Judge Rakoff: It's just to monitor the financial situation. 

Weigard's lawyer: He'll be going to Luxembourg.  [this came in mid-thread: Ruben Weigand | LinkedIn

 Weigand is to self-surrender on or before August 2. He wants LOMPOC in Southern California.

Akhavan here.

  Citing the preliminary order, another journalist Jordan Ellison wrote in. He was referred to the US Attorney's Office press contact - but the docket number of US v. Oliver Hargreaves, though still sealed / not found, has been obtained: 18-cr-746.

Now as of this writing on April 1 at 1 pm, the case is *still* not found. Inner City Press will have more on this.  Inner City Press will have more on this. For now, Weigand's post-arrest Q&A on Patreon here.

  On March 23, the jury  left at 3 pm without yet deciding. But they asked for an exhibit in which Wirecard was discussed, now on Patreon here. Podcast with dramatic reading including green tea fake company website favored by "Jan," here. Inner City Press live tweeted the jury notes session here.

And now, on March 24 before now, the jury has returned with two guilty verdicts. Inner City Press live tweeted it here (and podcast here)

Eaze  / Wirecard jury deliberations Day 2. Now Weigand is his defense chair, but detained Akhavan not yet brought in.

Judge Rakoff just spoke to the lawyer about rules involving speaking to jurors after the case is over. Voice: The public dial-in is silent. Jury is coming in, filing in front of the prosecutors' table.

Judge Rakoff: Please be seated. In a moment we will read out your verdict. I will not comment on it. You have been a terrific jury. Opening of verdict form. Judge Rakoff: It appears to be in proper form.

Judge Rakoff: On Mr. Akhavan, how do you find?

Foreman: Guilty.

Judge Rakoff: And Mr. Weigand?

Foreman: Guilty.

Judge Rakoff (after excusing jury) - Sentencing will be July 26, one at 4 and one at 5. Request is made for expedited sentencing. Dispute if that means 3 months or 2 months. So: June 25 at 11 am and noon.

Judge Rakoff: I think it makes sense to have Mr Akhavan be sentenced first. So he is 11 am and Mr. Weigand noon. Request for more time to file motions. So, April 21 for moving papers.

AUSA: We are seeking Mr. Weigand's detention.

 Defense: This trial has confirmed that this is a case involving no loss. We are aware your Honor does not follow the [Sentencing] Guidelines rigorously --

 Judge Rakoff: That's an understatement.

Weigand's lawyer: He's been out, paying his own guards, without issue. 

AUSA Folly: He is a German citizen and could flee there.

Defense: Mr. Weigand has letters --

Judge Rakoff: I'll cut you off because I'm going to rule in your favor. The calculus may be different on the day of sentencing. Let me say, this case was a pleasure. But I've got another proceeding...

 Back on March 2, evidence began - and witnesses with immunity deals. (Tassone's immunity deal is now on Patreon, here). Inner City Press tweeted in Day 2, here.

  Day Four began with news, tweeted by Inner City Press, that a juror had tested positive for COVID, and ended with cooperator Oliver Hargreaves on the stand.

  Day Five, things took off. The remaining 13 jurors all tested negative and when Hargreaves testified, first about fake website for golf equipment and facial cream, he soon turned to the meat: Wirecard and Jan Marsalek, live tweeted thread below. Inner City Press has asked the US Attorney's Office to make available the exhibits, as is done in other cases. So far, nothing. Some live tweets from the thread, here:

Hargreaves is reading out in court his message with Jan Marsalek of Wirecard.

Hargreaves quotes Marsalek saying, stop sending to this ProtonMail, send it to "EUprocessing."  Hargreaves wrote, EU [Processing] equals Ruben" [Weigand]

AUSA: Who is the deleted account?

Hargreaves: Can I see the page before? It's Ray's.

Assistant US Attorney: For which acquiring banks did you prepare fraudulent application packs?

Hargreaves: Wirecard... 

AUSA: Who responds to your chat?

Hargreaves: Ruben Weigand

Defense: Objection, to the extent that the document is cut off

Judge Rakoff: Overruled.

 AUSA: Where is Wirecard headquartered? Hargreaves: Munich, Germany...

AUSA: What is a "card not present transaction"? Hargreaves: A transaction not in a brick and mortar shop.

 AUSA: Was the fact that Eaze transactions were intended to be run through these Hot Robots accounts disclosed anywhere?

Hargreaves: No.
AUSA: In this Ali Baba chat, Ray says, So darling what will be submitted, right? Hargreaves: Yes. And Reuben says, it's fine

The case is US v. Weigand, 20-cr-188 (Rakoff).


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